There are many different types, or species, of NTM that can cause an infection. Depending on the species you have, your doctor may prescribe you different medicines.
The most common species of NTM is called MAC, or Mycobacterium avium complex. Sometimes, doctors will call an NTM infection "MAC" or "MAC lung disease" because it’s the species most often identified in patients.
Eight out of 10 NTM infections in the US are caused by MAC.
Some other types of NTM include:
If you do start treatment for NTM lung disease, sticking to your treatment regimen is extremely important. That’s because when you stay on treatment, there is a greater chance you could get rid of NTM.
You may be put on the guideline-recommended multidrug therapy. This means that you will take more than 1 medication at the same time. These medicines work together to attack the NTM bacteria in different ways. Using more than 1 treatment also helps prevent the bacteria from becoming resistant to one antibiotic. Specialists treating NTM lung disease usually treat with 3 or more drugs.
Depending on how severe your NTM lung disease is, you may be required to take your medicine once a day or 3 times a week. Like other treatments out there, you may experience side effects. Visiting your doctor regularly will help him or her monitor how you are responding to treatment and help manage side effects.
You may stay on treatment until your symptoms get better and you have fully cleared all NTM bacteria. Once you get rid of the bacteria, you may need to stay on treatment for 12 more months. This is to make sure the NTM infection does not come back.
Treatment can be long. However, when you stick to treatment and work with your doctor, there is a good chance that you will get rid of NTM.
NTM lung disease can make your body create excess mucus in your airways. Using certain airway clearance devices in addition to taking your medicine can help you clear the mucus from your lungs.
Talk to your doctor about ways to manage mucus clearance. In addition, the resource below has examples of different techniques you can use:
When you’re living with a lung condition, it’s especially important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. That’s because exercise and diet can affect how your body works. Remember, you can always talk to your doctor if you have any questions about your lung health.
Whether you’re traveling far away or just seeing family or friends nearby, here are a few tips to help you manage your lung condition.
Stick to foods that can help minimize inflammation.
Be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any new vitamins.
This nutrition guide is only a suggestion. You can talk to your doctor or a dietitian if you'd like help putting together a meal plan, or if you have any questions or concerns.
For helpful resources, support, and information about NTM lung disease
It’s important to know as much as you can about NTM lung disease and how it affects your body. Here is another resource where you can learn more: